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North Codorus Township solicitor Stephanie Kogut gives an update on the supervisor's stance on Southwestern Regional Police service in the township. William Kalina, 717-505-5449/@BillKalina

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About 100 concerned citizens filled the standing-room only North Codorus Township Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday night, and many had the same message: Keep Southwestern Regional Police.

In October, township supervisors submitted their intent to leave the regional department by the end of 2019, citing rising costs as the reason behind the departure. They recently rejected a proposed department budget that would have cut their costs by 25 percent.

Township supervisor Rodney Shearer told the crowd at the meeting Tuesday, March 19, that the township should have service proposals from both Northern York County Regional Police and West Manchester Township by April 15. 

"Pushing the (response) times further away is not a good idea, and that is coming from a shooting victim," Jeremy Dettinger told township supervisors.

Should the township stick to its plan, it would leave Southwestern Regional Police  with Manheim Township, Heidelberg Township and Spring Grove as member municipalities. 

For Southwestern Regional Police, North Codorus pays nearly $1 million a year for service, about half of the regional department's annual budget.

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Meeting: Several residents questioned the township board's decision, and none of those who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting supported North Codorus leaving the department.

Many of those who spoke called for a town-wide survey to gauge where residents stand on the matter. Todd Zeigler recommended the township hire an independent firm to survey the residents.

"I just think you need to explore it," he said.

After the meeting, board vice-chairman Dennis Luckenbaugh said the township didn't have it in the budget to send out surveys by mail.

"We don't have the funds," he said.

Resident Dettinger was shot by a "one in a million" bullet while in his parents' backyard in the 2100 block of Martin Road in October 2015. The shooter was never caught. 

He said he waited seven minutes for police to arrive when he was shot, and he did not want anyone to have to wait longer for police response. 

Jackie Heffner, EMS Chief of Spring Grove Area Ambulance, said quick police response times are hugely important for her organization.

Shearer had said he would like the money saved from potentially switching departments to go to the fire and ambulance services.

"While EMS totally supports your donations, I'd like to see it go to the police force," Heffner said.

Township resident John Rebert encouraged residents to show their support outside the township building before the supervisors' April 16 meeting. He will be outside the building at 6:30 p.m. with a sign in support of the department.

"It's just disgusting that you have so many people come out, and (the board's) not listening," he said after the meeting.

Regional department Chief Greg Bean called the turnout at the meeting "heart-warming."

"I hope it does some good," he said.

What's next: Shearer told residents that the board will talk with legal counsel about potentially sharing some of their other concerns with Southwestern Regional Police.

For now, the township has requested drafts of service from Northern Regional Police and West Manchester Township Police for 24/7 coverage. Those drafts are expected to be given to the township by April  15.

Shearer said he would like the departments' leadership to come to a meeting and pitch their proposal to the residents. 

Township solicitor Stephanie Kogut told the crowd the township is hoping to make a decision on its next department by June or July.

Last week, Southwestern Regional Police said in a news release that North Codorus Township could have to pay up to $1 million for leaving the department, an assertion on which township officials pushed back.

"It is far too early in the process," Kogut said. 

The police station needs to be appraised, and the township is expected to get the appraised value of what they put into it, back.

Additionally, the capital investment the township put into the department in 2001 has not yet been evaluated, according to Kogut. 

The police board solicitor, Walter Tilley, said the investment had  depreciated or been replaced over the past 16 years.

However, Kogut said the level of depreciation has not yet been determined.

After the meeting, Bean said the police board is now starting the process of separating from North Codorus Township.

Still, he hopes the township decides to stay. 

"We're better with them than without them," he said.

Southwestern's police board meets at 7 p.m. April 10 at the police station at 6115 Thoman Drive.

North Codorus Township supervisors meet again 7 p.m. April 16 at the township building at 1986 Stoverstown Road.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser. 

 

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